NIH partners with 11 leading biopharmaceutical companies to accelerate the development of new cancer immunotherapy strategies for more patients

In late 2017, The National Institutes of Health and 11 leading biopharmaceutical companies started the Partnership for Accelerating Cancer Therapies (PACT). PACT is a five-year, $215 million, public-private research collaboration that is part of the Cancer Moonshot. PACT’s initial efforts will be focused on identifying, developing and validating robust biomarkers with the goal of advancing new immunotherapy treatments that harness the immune system to attack cancer. The PACT partnership will be managed by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) and the Food and Drug Administration serving in an advisory role.

Eric Hargan, Acting Health and Human Services Secretary stated, “This new public-private partnership is a significant step forward in the battle against cancer and a real boost to the potential of immunotherapy. We are excited for this partnership, which will strengthen efforts already underway across HHS.”

“We have seen dramatic responses from immunotherapy, often eradicating cancer completely for some cancer patients,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.  “We need to bring that kind of success — and hope — for more people and more types of cancers, and we need to do it quickly. A systematic approach like PACT will help us to achieve success faster.”

This partnership will help to increase the overall understanding of response mechanisms and resistance to cancer therapy by facilitating systematic and uniform clinical testing of biomarkers. PACT’s research will define a set of standardized biomarkers to be tested across a variety of studies allowing them to be integrated into immune and other related oncology biomarkers into clinical trials.

In addition, PACT will facilitate information sharing amongst stakeholders to better coordinate clinical efforts, align investigative approaches, reduce duplication and enable more high-quality trials to be conducted. The constant gene uniform and harmonized assays will be facilitated in support of data reproducibility, comparability of data across trials, and discovery and validation of new biomarkers for immunotherapy and related combinations.

FNIH President and Executive Director Maria C. Freire, Ph.D. stated, “A scientific and organizational challenge this complex cannot be addressed effectively by any one organization acting alone. Instead, it requires the energies and resources of public and private partners working in close collaboration.”

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